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Joy

The Mobile Press Register was quite a bit heavier today than yesterday. Some of the extra bulk can be attributed to a special 26 page section about the history of the Iron Bowl. Most of the additional weight in today’s paper was from a mountain of sales papers heralding that a new season of shopping is waiting just beyond the turkey and thankfulness.

The season of joy begins tonight with the annual convergence of Christmas decorating and Black Friday shopping. But everyone may not be so joyful. For some people the Christmas season is one of their loneliest times of the year. Other people may be struggling with reasons to be thankful today after a year of job losses, and future economic uncertainty renders the prospect of a joyful Christmas bleak. Some people simply don’t like Christmas, but we will leave the Scrooges for Mr. Dickens.

Reasons abound for people not to be happy, but there are few reasons to lack joy. The season of joy is not affected by circumstances when fully und…

Getting What I Deserve

Most of us have an innate sense of fairness. We instantly recognize when someone else is getting a bigger “half” of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And we don’t like it. We even learn social norms for fairness based on our interaction with other people.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the post office to buy stamps. At the post office everyone forms a line, and a postal employee takes each customer in order. As we were waiting for our turn, a guy walked into the post office, bypassed everyone in line, and went directly to the counter. To make matters worse, he was talking on his cell phone! Our otherwise friendly line was internally converting to a lynching mob. If looks could kill, a few old ladies would soon be on trial. Fortunately, our postal employee recognized the villain and sent the man to the back of the line while pointing to a sign that said “No Cell Phones.” We were all quietly vindicated as justice was restored.

In Christian circles we have a sense of fairness about ho…

Top Ten Easter Observations

1. Hardboiled eggs are safer to dye than raw eggs.
2. Kids love when the Easter Bunny visits, but hate visiting the Easter Bunny.
3. Kenneth (our custodian) wins the Easter egg hunt every year.
4. Smarties grow mold after a year in a plastic egg.
5. Eating an entire chocolate egg at once will produce a stomach ache.
6. Peeps cannot be imitated.
7. Pastel shirts are still pastel even though it’s Easter.
8. Gathering for Easter worship makes up for missing Christmas worship (snow).
9. Tomb is empty, but my heart is full.
10. By His wounds, I am healed.

Should I Pray in Jesus’ Name?

Do you remember learning how to pray? Perhaps your parents taught you to pray before you went to bed. “God, thank you for my brother even though I don’t like him. Thank you for my dog…” Maybe your parents or Sunday school teachers also taught you to pray “in Jesus’ name.” Did you know that none of the recorded prayers in the Bible include the phrase “in Jesus’ name”? Yet we often end every prayer in Jesus’ name.

Wayne Grudem explains praying “in Jesus’ name” aptly in his work Bible Doctrine. The following excerpt is taken from page 161 of his book.

“Does this mean that it is wrong to add ‘in Jesus’ name’ to the end of our prayers? It is certainly not wrong, as long as we understand what is meant by it and that it is not necessary to do so. There may be some danger, however, if we add this phrase to every public or private prayer we make, for very soon it will become to people simply a formula to which they attach very little meaning and say without thinking about it. It may even begin t…

Snow Days

Before the age of seventeen, I only remember having one snow day in south Alabama. Weather forecasters predicted a dusting to one inch of snow, which led to a shopping frenzy across the whole county. Woodsheds were emptied. Tractors were summoned. Milk and bread were secured, and dogs were allowed on the porch.

On the snow day we received a record two inches of snow! The entire county came to a sliding halt. School was cancelled, and my sister and I celebrated by building a ten inch snowman.

Since that time I have encountered ice storms in Florida, over two foot blizzards in Indiana with blowing snow, and mountain snow in Virginia. Every area has one thing in common – winter weather interrupts our normal plans in a magnificent way. Schools close. Churches close. Even malls close. Gatherings get cancelled. Rulers get tested. Neighbors meet over snow shovels and become amateur meteorologists. And everyone is acutely aware that we are not the ones who are in control of this…

Stupid Things People Do

Throughout history men and women both have done some pretty stupid things. Have you heard the story about a woman named Maggie who went to the shopping mall and spent an entire year’s salary in one afternoon? She went to the bank one morning and cashed in her IRA, and went shopping that afternoon for one item. She came home with a bag, and she put the gift away in a freezer in the basement.

Several weeks later Maggie’s family had a big party to show their appreciation to a neighbor, Josh, who had rescued their cat, Simone, from an apple tree in his backyard. Simone was a beautiful Persian cat with a bubbly personality. The whole family was greatly appreciative of Josh’s heroic efforts. About halfway through the party, Maggie disappeared into the hallway and emerged with a beautifully wrapped present for Josh. Everyone paused as Maggie presented Josh with this spectacular package. Josh opened the gift and revealed a frozen haute chocolate.

Maggie’s cousin, Jude, who was a wea…